July 7, 2014 - Introducing ‘Mont Priscilla’, our first Cheese
This week we start the first experiments to scale up our production from very small test batches of 3 to 4 kilogram cheeses (using 35L of milk) to something closer to what we will release.
With that in mind, we thought it an opportune time to introduce you to the first of our cheeses. Consistent with the philosophy of Section28 we aim to make a style of cheese that is wholly Australian but references the Morbier cheese made in the Franche-Comté region of Eastern France.
When cut, Morbier is instantly recognisable. It never fails to impress with its thin bright orange rind that complements the creamy-straw yellow pâté, both starkly contrasted by the line of black ash through the middle. It is pure Artistry on a plate!
We adore how the Morbier’s initially confronting, yeasty smell (think musty, smelly socks) opens into a fresh and vibrant taste of the grass the cows have been eating, with just the smallest hint of citrus. However, the thing we love most about Morbier is its history.
It has been made for more than 200 years but as with many great culinary treasures (think Prosciutto di Parma, fiori di zucca or ricotta), it existed in the shadows of its grand cousin the Comté.
Initially, Morbier was made using leftovers from the production of Comté and only ever for consumption by the family of the cheesemaker.
At the end of a day’s production, if there were curds left over that weren’t sufficient to make a full wheel of Comté, the farmer would leave the curds in a barrel overnight and then ‘top it up’ the next day.
In order to prevent a rind from forming overnight (and to keep insects away), the farmer would sprinkle ash from burnt vine leaves on the fresh curd. This gave the cheese its distinctive ash line but also, historically, would result in a slightly different colour and texture between the top and the bottom.
In addition, since the farmer wasn’t able to press the cheese, they had to resort to washing the rind to aid in the Morbier’s maturation. As a result the cheese has a sticky, smelly thin orange rind but a much creamier, softer pâté.
And finally, why the name Mont Priscilla? It is inspired by the hill that overlooks Section28 – a local landmark that we climbed many times as kids for the views and, paraphrasing George Mallory,
“…because it was there…”.
We are aiming to make a cheese that acknowledges the history of Morbier but which captures the terroir of the Adelaide Hills and the local milk – a daunting and ambitious task!
Watch for post updates and tweets as we progress our Mont Priscilla through its test phase and onto full production.
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